Is Microsoft part of the "vast right wing conspiracy"?

See excerpt from News.Com article below (part of a larger report on a controversial "study" attacking the originality of Linux):

"Microsoft indeed has provided funding to the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution for five years, a Microsoft representative said, without disclosing how much has been granted. Microsoft funds several public policy institutes, including the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute, the representative said."

Source: http://news.com.com/2100-7344_3-5216651.html

Interesting list of institutions, eh?

Not to mention that the tactic Microsoft is accused of using in this article, funding an allegedly "objective" study by an "academic" institution (which just happens to serve the interests of the institution's funders) is remarkably similar to that taken by the ultra-right think tanks who've been at the forefront of funding these same institutions.

I wonder how much of their monopoly rents from the Windows OS and Office have been poured into these institutions? Another reason to dislike Microsoft, I guess (if there were not already more than enough)... not to mention kind of scary: MS could drop a billion (about how much the entire VWR has lavished on their favored "think tanks" over the last decade) on these twits without even blinking.

Hmm... a search of Media Transparency for Microsoft produces this pointer to the Alexis De Toqueville Institution, which cites a paper by this same individual (Kenneth Brown) from the year 2000.

Guess what's next for Mr. Brown? A book on the same subject... if history is any guide, it will be heavily subsidized by the institutions whose interests it serves... and its author won't suffer financially, either. These "academics" never do - I joke with my friends that both the right and the left pay their professional activists a living wage. It's just that the left defines this as $14.00/hour with no benefits, and the right, $120,000 a year with all the perks you can imagine. :/

I think I'll write Media Transparency an email suggesting that they add MS to the list of institutions whose donations they track.

--Thomas Leavitt

Bush Campaign Lies

Bush Campaign Lies

Honestly, can you think of a Presidential campaign in the past that was based entirely on lies, like the Bush campaign is? I'm serious, it's entirely lies and if you think about that it's pretty amazing that things are at this point where they can do that.


This Is Not My America

ArchPundit: This Is Not My America:
WASHINGTON -- A military intelligence analyst who recently completed duty at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq said Wednesday that the 16-year-old son of a detainee there was abused by U.S. soldiers to break his father's resistance to interrogators.
This is what having Bush as president means. Watch your backs.

Cover Stories

There's something in human nature that makes us avoid accepting bad news. As long as we can point to reasonable doubt – another possible explanation – we don't let the bad news sink in. Especially if acceptance means we have to do something we don’t want to do, or to believe a particularly unpleasant truth.

So Republicans have learned that it is a remarkably effective tactic to come up with a "cover story" that they spread when they want to do something that the public is otherwise not going to like. Lay down a fog of words to confuse and get people arguing and keep people from becoming activated, and they can go ahead and do pretty much anything they want.

For example, "a few bad apples" did bad things in the Iraqi prisons. That's the cover story, and Bush is sticking to it.

Look at this story in yesterday’s NY Times, "White House Is Trumpeting Programs It Tried to Cut". From the story,
For example, Justice Department officials recently announced that they were awarding $47 million to scores of local law enforcement agencies for the hiring of police officers. Mr. Bush had just proposed cutting the budget for the program, known as Community Oriented Policing Services, by 87 percent, to $97 million next year, from $756 million.

The administration has been particularly energetic in publicizing health programs, even ones that had been scheduled for cuts or elimination.
[. . .] The administration also announced recently that it was providing $11.6 million to the states so they could buy defibrillators to save the lives of heart attack victims. But Mr. Bush had proposed cutting the budget for such devices by 82 percent, to $2 million from $10.9 million.
Etc. Say one thing even while doing something completely different. Who are you going to believe, the nice words containing pretty promises of pleasant prosperity, or your own lying eyes?

Remember the "Healthy Forests Initiative?" That's the one where they cut down the trees to prevent fires. It's designed to enrich logging companies, while the cover story is that it helps the forests stay healthy. And the "Clear Skies Initiative" that lets power generators increase pollution of the air? Their words are not matching their actions.

Here's an even better example, in yesterday's Washington Post, "Bushwhacked In the Caribbean." The Bush administration is demanding that Caribbean countries renounce their commitment to democracy. From the piece,
The Bush administration['s]demand[s] that the democratic countries of the Caribbean [. . .] (3) abandon their policy of admitting only democratically elected governments into the councils of Caricom.
[. . .] The United States' demand that Caricom abandon its long-held insistence on democratic principles is psychic poison to the region.

Haiti was welcomed as a full member of Caricom because its people had established a democratic form of government. After the recent shattering of that democracy, Caribbean heads of government decided to maintain support for the people of Haiti but allow democratic elections to determine who will represent Haiti in the councils of Caricom. "We are the children of slaves," one Caribbean national explained. "And so, we stay away from the tyranny of the unelected. . . . If America thinks that an unelected government is fine for Haiti, when will they say that an unelected government is best for my country?"

The Bush administration, however, has been implacable. Its officials were to have come to the Caribbean in April and May to discuss, among other things, terrorism, but the administration presented Caribbean governments with an ultimatum: no recognition of Latortue, no meetings between the United States and the Caribbean leaders. Caricom reminded U.S. officials that Latortue was not elected by anyone. And so the meetings are off. Why is the unelected Latortue more important to the Bush administration than the Caribbean's 14 democratically elected governments?
Now remember, Bush says the Iraq invasion and occupation (after the WMD cover story was dropped) is about bringing democracy to the region, because that is what America is about. But when you look at what the U.S. under Bush actually DOES, this immediately falls apart. Bringing democracy is a cover story.

So how do we deal with this? How do we cut through the words they spread? Most – but not all – people in the old Soviet Union came to understand that their government lied. They came to recognize propaganda and read between the lines. So it stopped working. And in America now, we must also learn to look only at what they DO, and ignore what they say. We must learn that the Right's words are only designed to confuse and obfuscate. The words are only cover stories, designed to make us forget what our own eyes can see. They just lie. We have to develop skills for overcoming the power of their words, their cover stories, and learn to believe only what they do.

They just lie. Look at what they do, always ignore what they say.

These Republicans thought they could go into Iraq and do what they do here – lay down a fog of words to cover their actions. But in Iraq the people had lived under a lying dictator and had already learned to watch what happens and not to rely on the words. It's second nature. This is why so many are so angry at us now. They know to look at what happens, not what is said, and they can see with their eyes that what is happening there is not what we say is happening. They can see that we are not at all doing what we say we are, they see the contradictions, they see the contracts given to connected Americans, they see their economy changed to benefit the wealthy, they see the oil being taken, they see the treatment they receive from us, and they know that what is really going on is different from what we say. Bush speaks of us as a noble power, bringing hope and light and democracy and prosperity to the rest of the world. But the rest of the world sees what is happening and hates us for it.

Sadly, sadly, America has changed, and now we must learn to look for what actually happens, and ignore the pretty, enticing words.

Jobs Going Away

Offshoring of U.S. jobs accelerating, researchers say
New figures on offshore outsourcing suggest that American companies are sending even more white-collar jobs to low-wage countries such as India, China and Russia than researchers originally estimated.

Roughly 830,000 U.S. service-sector jobs - ranging from telemarketers and accountants to software engineers and chief technology officers - will move abroad by the end of 2005, according to a report released Monday by Forrester Research Inc.

Iran Behind It All?

U.S. Soldiers Raid Chalabi's Home in Iraq.

My wild idea? Iran. Maybe, knowing that the Right in America is able to engineer opinion and push through anything they want, Iran hatched a plan to convince key neo-cons that Iraq was a great target. Maybe Chalabi was working for Iran the whole time, manipulating the neo-cons into engineering the invasion of Iraq, making them think they were engaged in a noble effort to "bring democracy to the region" and protect Israel, and get the oil, and implement an experimental example of their libertarian ideology, etc.
Ahmad Chalabi, the longtime Pentagon favorite to become leader of a free Iraq, has never made a secret of his close ties to Iran. Before the U.S. invasion of Baghdad, Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress maintained a $36,000-a-month branch office in Tehran—funded by U.S. taxpayers. INC representatives, including Chalabi himself, paid regular visits to the Iranian capital. Since the war, Chalabi's contacts with Iran may have intensified: a Chalabi aide says that since December, he has met with most of Iran's top leaders, including supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his top national-security aide, Hassan Rowhani. "Iran is Iraq's neighbor, and it is in Iraq's interest to have a good relationship with Iran," Chalabi's aide says.

But U.S. intelligence agencies have recently raised concerns that Chalabi has become too close to Iran's theocratic rulers. NEWSWEEK has learned that top Bush administration officials have been briefed on intelligence indicating that Chalabi and some of his top aides have supplied Iran with "sensitive" information on the American occupation in Iraq. U.S. officials say that electronic intercepts of discussions between Iranian leaders indicate that Chalabi and his entourage told Iranian contacts about American political plans in Iraq. There are also indications that Chalabi has provided details of U.S. security operations. According to one U.S. government source, some of the information Chalabi turned over to Iran could "get people killed."
And now the entire US military is bogged in a quagmire -- no adventures into Iran any time soon, that's for sure. Meanwhile Iraq is getting ready to split into parts -- with Iran lined up to get the Shiite south and its oil regions.

Maybe these dumb Bush clucks fell for one of the greatest scams in history!

What do you think? Is this a good one?

(See also, How Ahmed Chalabi conned the neocons)

Update - If they were really smart, they would have hidden a speaker in the ceiling in Bush's bedroom and make him thinkit was God talking to him, telling him to invade Iraq. ... come to think of it, maybe they did!


Don't Ever Criticize The Party

A teacher was fired because his student read a poem that criticized Bush. Read about it here.
In March 2003, a teenage girl named Courtney presented one of her poems before an audience at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Albuquerque, then read the poem live on the school's closed-circuit television channel.

A school military liaison and the high school principal accused the girl of being "un-American" because she criticized the war in Iraq and the Bush administration's failure to give substance to its "No child left behind" education policy.

The girl's mother, also a teacher, was ordered by the principal to destroy the child's poetry. The mother refused and may lose her job.

Bill Nevins was suspended for not censoring the poetry of his students. Remember, there is no obscenity to be found in any of the poetry. He was later fired by the principal.

After firing Nevins and terminating the teaching and reading of poetry in the school, the principal and the military liaison read a poem of their own as they raised the flag outside the school. When the principal had the flag at full staff, he applauded the action he'd taken in concert with the military liaison.

Then to all students and faculty who did not share his political opinions, the principal shouted: "Shut your faces."
Seeing the Forest readers: Watch your backs and SHUT YOUR FACES!

Bush Denounce? Fat Chance

From Right Hook, Michael Savage the other day: (Savage says he has 6 million listeners, so take this seriously)
"'I think there should be no mercy shown to these sub-humans. I believe that a thousand of them should be killed tomorrow. I think a thousand of them held in the Iraqi prison should be given 24 hour[s] -- a trial and executed. I think they need to be shown that we are not going to roll over to them ... Instead of putting joysticks, I would have liked to have seen dynamite put in their orifices and they should be dropped from airplanes ... They should put dynamite in their behinds and drop them from 35,000 feet, the whole pack of scum out of that jail.'

The next day Savage added that Arabs were 'racist, fascist bigots,' and purported to speak for a majority of Americans regarding the war. He offered several all-American solutions to our problems in the Middle East.

'Right now, even people sitting on the fence would like George Bush to drop a nuclear weapon on an Arab country. They don't even care which one it would be. I can guarantee you -- I don't need to go to Mr. Schmuck [pollster John] Zogby and ask him his opinion ... The most -- I tell you right now -- the largest percentage of Americans would like to see a nuclear weapon dropped on a major Arab capital. They don't even care which one...

'I think these people need to be forcibly converted to Christianity ... It's the only thing that can probably turn them into human beings.' "
Do you think Arabs know that many right-wing Americans are talking like this? Do you think THIS is the real unspoken message that the Right wants out there? Sure, Savage is a wingnut, but he's not the only one talking like this by a long shot. Enough of them are talking like this, and our government sure is acting like it's their thinking...

Sometimes I think the best way to understand the messages the Right is putting out there is to learn what their target audiences are hearing.

Do you think Bush is going to renounce this kind of talk and apologize for it? Fat chance.

Always Ignore their Words

Watching what they do, not what they say, I think this tends to confirm what I wrote before about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Bush: Tapping Emergency Oil Would Endanger U.S.:
Bush accused Democrats of playing politics with the rise in gasoline prices, saying that calls by some of them to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would leave Americans more vulnerable if a terrorist attack were to occur.

"We will not play politics with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve," Bush told reporters after a meeting with his Cabinet.

"The idea of emptying the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would put America in a dangerous position in the war on terror," Bush said.
Now, this is obviously crap. Democrats are asking Bush to stop buying oil (using OUR Social Security money to do it) when it's at the highest price ever, not to "tap the reserves." The SPR currently stands at 659 million barrels, with a capacity of 700 million. The government is buying 170,000 barrels of oil each day, at a time of peak demand, driving prices even higher.

Watching what they DO, this is a crony deal, sending 170,000 barrels times $41 each day going from the government to Koch Supply & Trading, LP, a major funder of the Right.

Remember, aside from what they are SAYING, what they are DOING is refusing to stop BUYING MORE OIL at a time of peak demand, at the highest prices ever, when the reserve is just about full anyway.


OK, what's Blogger doing to me now. If you don't see what I'm talking about it's probably fixed...

Don't Forget

Don't forget to listen to Al Franken on Air America Radio starting at noon Eastern time. Click the link, and click "Listen Live" to listen online.


963 spam e-mails as of 8:15 this morning. Today will be a new record. Spam has rendered my e-mail almost useless.

When I'm travelling, and have to use a dial-up connection...

Update As of 5:15pm I have received 925 more spams since this morning.


Good Time to Place an Ad

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New RSS Options

Thanks to a post at Hullabaloo there are new options for subscribing to Seeing the Forest. Over on the right side of the page, scroll down until you see the logo. This lets you subscribe to the RSS feed, through FeedBurner.com Logo.

If you know what that means, it means something. If you don't, don't worry about it.

Gas Prices

People are asking why the government is now going all out buying oil to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. After all, prices are the highest ever, driven by demand. A pause in the purchases would lower demand -- which would bring down prices -- as well as save the People of the United States a lot of money by waiting until prices are lower to purchase the oil.

Maybe this has something to do with it. The Bush administration gave the contract for supplying the oil to Koch Supply & Trading, LP, owned by some of the primary funders of the far, far right. By purchasing oil for the Reserve, the Bush administration is helping fund the Right, which is pumping millions upon millions into his campaign.

For example, this press release from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), titled "Schumer's Proposal to Lower Gas Prices Puts Politics Ahead of safety and Sound Economics" doesn't mention that NCPA receives at least $80,000 a year from Koch foundations (Lambe is also a Koch foundation).

Rumsfeld is toast

Apparently Rumsfeld has been chosen as the fall guy for Iraq, as this piece by Martin Sieff, "UPI Senior News Analyst" shows:

"Even worse for Rumsfeld and his coterie of neo-conservative true believers who have run the Pentagon for the past 3½ years, three major institutions in the Washington power structure have decided that after almost a full presidential term of being treated with contempt and abuse by them, it's payback time.

Those three institutions are: The United States Army, the Central Intelligence Agency and the old, relatively moderate but highly experienced Republican leadership in the United States Senate."

You can add a fourth basically-conservative institution to the anti-Rumsfeld list: the UPI, which is owned by Rev. Moon. As I understand, UPI is mostly a simple news-dissemination organization, and doesn't normally do opinion like this. (Sieff is defnitely right-wing -- he was originally from the Washington Times and has written for the National Review.)

It looks to me as if the neocons will be thrown overboard to try to save the Bush Presidency. It seems unlikely to me that anyone will abandon Bush himself, though Kerry has really done nothing to make it impossible for Sens. Hagel and Lugar (or other rational conservatives) to support him.

P.S. Correspondents have notified me that Sieff also has written for Salon, and that he's been critical of Bush for over a year. The recognizable names in a "UPI columnist" Google are hard-right paleocons such as Joe Sobran and Ann Coulter, and some of them have apparently been critical of the Iraq adventure all along.


"Liberal elitism", etc.

The "elitist" charge thrown at Democrats by Republicans is basically phony. For all his pretensions, George W. Bush was born a millionaire and never has had to work a day in his life. Republican policies are most helpful to those in the top 1% of the income scale, and are increasingly less helpful the further down the scale you go. Probably they do harm to most people in the bottom half, and possibly even to the bottom two-thirds. So in reality, the elitism smear is just part of a well-financed Republican effort to deceive people.

So why is the charge so effective? I think that it's because, by now, the Democratic Party does indeed represent large groups whose status depends on credentials and connections, and that many plebian voters basically don't like these people. The college professor is a case in point. I would guess that most people who come out of college admiring their professors (especially liberal arts professors) end up as Democrats, whereas most of the students who come out of college hating those professors (especially students specializing in practical fields) end up as Republicans. (And non-college people are probably more likely to hate professors than to love them.)

Liberal-arts-type people do well in academia, education, arts and entertainment, non-profits, public service, and administration. They don't usually gravitate toward business or technical fields, and they seldom end up as labor in the traditional sense of the word. (Not being labor is the main purpose of education, right?)

Now, it's in these liberal-arts type fields that various sorts of P.C., coolness, and hipness are most influential. For jobs in these areas, it tends to be necessary to have the right manners, to say the right things, and just generally to seem like the right kind of person. I'm convinced that this is the new gentility and that the liberal arts education and its mannerisms have become the new index of class. People who are hip and cool (even if quite poor) are genteel, whereas people who are unhip and uncool (even if they're prosperous) are low-class and are excluded. And P.C. diversity is a sort of fig leaf hiding what's going on. It's a cliché, but it's still true: diversity just doesn't extend, for example, to white guys who drink pop wine and shoot rabbits for fun.

In actual fact, uncool low-income people are hurt more by the acts of Republican management than they are by anything that the liberal academic and administrative elite ever does. But the lefestyle snobbery they percieve is real, and as a result the Democrats have effectively allowed the Republicans to pick up a lot of their votes -- essentially for nothing.

After all, the Democrats' main concern with regard to organized labor (which is actually a relatively privileged part of the bottom half of the income scale) is that it is terribly. terribly important not to pander to them. Basically, the neoliberals running the party have chosen not to represent a considerable chunk of the electorate, and nobody should be surprised if the Republicans take advantage of this and pick up some cheap votes.

(This is a think-piece and not keyed to any recent event, or even to the fall election. It's Part One of two, and the second part, about competition, is better.)